UX: The Key to The Future for SEO Success
Over the past few months I’m seeing more and more marketers and business owners frustrated with SEO solutions that used to work a couple of years ago, but don’t work anymore because of the latest turbulence in Google’s search algorithms.
SEO + UX = Success
With algorithms constantly evolving to favor quality of user experience and value of site content over keywords, most web designers are finding it difficult to achieve high page rankings through on page and off page techniques alone.
A sure way for me to win the SEO game and produce sales, is by seamlessly combining user-focused web design with top-quality content, search engine-friendly layout and architecture into a single marketing approach (you can read about my process here).
To my way of thinking, SEO and UX should be complementary tool-sets for any website.
To boost a web site upward in search rankings, we need to satisfy user needs while meeting Google’s Optimization Guidelines.
If your design and UX efforts are not powered by Keyword research and user intent from the beginning of your website development, you’re probably hurting instead of helping your SEO efforts.
Keep reading and I’ll tell you how to get the best results from using both tool-sets together, while avoiding the pitfalls of SEO and UX conflicts.
How SEO and UX work together
Your site must be both searchable and usable. To rise in rankings, you need a well-designed website (*design based on previous CRO research) which offers the best appeal to both human visitors and search engine bots.
It’s easy to see why different tools and techniques are converging. The goal of search engine algorithms is to give users the most relevant search results which also offer the best user experience.
SEO focuses on a visitor’s path before and after they reach a site. At the same time, web design based on UX addresses the visitor’s experience while on-site, and is focused on the user’s interaction with your site, including responses to product and service offerings and other content.
On the UX side, good web design gives your visitors accessibility and usability. On the SEO side, it also gives you higher search page rankings, which means better marketing results.
Even though most professional developers understand that user experience is important, they usually leave SEO design as an afterthought.
A beautiful website with keyword stuffing and other conflicts is still a loser.
We like to use engaging interfaces, informative content, plenty of “negative space,” and assign the right keywords to the appropriate layout design based on user intent and this process begins from the ground up. Here are some of the ways that UX and SEO can work together to give you better results.
Bounce rates can seriously hurt your SEO efforts
If your site offers a poor-quality UX, it’s a quick turnoff – Visitors will bounce back to their earlier search results. High Bounce rate can seriously hurt your website rankings.
When investing time and money to build landing pages with good visibility, don’t neglect UX. The user experience determines whether your visitors will convert or bounce. Even if your SEO is great, you’ll need the right UX to keep people on-page long enough to move through the conversion process.
UX can help protect and leverage your SEO investment
(….this is one of the hardest parts while dealing with clients. Some of them are really attached to the clutter and are hard to convince about changes – A great way to overcome any conflicts is to suggest A/B testing to make sure the decision from both parties is based on data and not opinions).
When faced with multiple fields and confusing forms, such as registration pages for websites as well as special offers and event signups, visitors bounce hard and fast. A better user experience and proper call to actions and a well thought path keeps them on your page longer.
It happens when you ask them to immediately give too much information, and they’re overwhelmed by too many fields to complete, or too many options.
For example, if you’re asking for too much information during the first step of a sign-up process, the site’s conversion rate will be low. Visitors bounce by clicking the “back” button in order to return to their search results.
Bounces erode SEO benefits because they seriously affect your “time on page” ranking and other Google search engine factors, which causes overall search page rankings to drop or remain static. That’s how bad UX negates SEO efforts.
When new clients ask me to solve their old SEO problems, my best UX practice is to reduce their long online forms or registrations into several steps. First, gather the minimum information, such as email address and name, and then move the visitor forward through the funnel, asking for additional information at each stage.
Instead of bouncing from your site and returning to their search results, visitors stay on-page longer and convert at higher rates.
When I work to resolve an old SEO problem, my first step is always to think in user experience first and then how to implement on page best practices to help the page’s rankings.
SEO works on either side of the fold
Another optimization issue that you can avoid with good UX design is the problem of focusing “above the fold.” The traditional advertising wisdom says that people don’t like to scroll down through web pages.
Back in the old days, major news was always nearest the top of the front page of the newspaper because casual readers were thought likely to skim down only to the fold.
So, today’s old-school web designers overload the top of the page layout with content because they think people won’t scroll. The result is often a crowded, cluttered presentation that causes the visitor to bounce, even if your on-page SEO is great.
Remember, your visitor can only buy if he or she stays long enough to look into your product. Best UX practices include designing the entire page for better on-page optimization, layout and link architecture. Everything begins with the users, who can only be converted if they are drawn into your interface.
By designing the entire webpage instead of packing the content “above the fold,” my team and I can use fewer elements and more “negative space” around each element. This UX-focused approach to SEO creates cleaner, less-cluttered page layouts that draw visitors’ eyes into the content, and holds them.
I’ve found that a compelling user interface grips visitors and makes them willing to scroll down to see more content. In my experience, that’s how UX design makes your SEO more successful.
SEO, UX, and all digital marketing must work together
The classic mistake made by web designers is to focus on what looks best for visual layout and content, but without understanding how visitors are really using the sites. My approach helps with the decision making of the new design layouts, removes any decision making by managers, sr. designers and it’ s based on data driven decision making.
Everyone’s design idea can work as long as it can beat in sales & conversion the “n”
By knowing how visitors use sites, we can place the right content in the right place. I’ve seen that this method can dramatically improve visitor session times and time-on-site rankings, as well as increasing the share-ability of your content. It’s another way that UX supports SEO success.
We often use heat-mapping methods and recorded sessions to analyze visitors’ click behaviors for content, so we can improve the user experience.
For this step on my process i like to use Inspeclet. Inspeclet allows you to see recording on how users use your site on their desktop or mobile devices. Once you set up a proper way to view the recordings and record data you can make design decisions that can help you adjust the layout of your site to help with conversions, forms, or social sharing.The longer visitors are engaged on-site, the more likely they are to find the solutions they’re looking for.
These days, email marketing, PPC, SEO don’t work separately – To be successful, an SEO needs to be able work and blend best practices from design, paid ads and emails in order to be able to compete with continuous algorithm changes, mobile design updates and upcoming paid ad changes.
Are you rising in the search results by using SEO…… with or without UX?